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Wild Carnivore Diet – What Foods do Coyotes, Bobcats, and Other Wild Carnivores Eat While Held in Captivity?

If you’ve ever wondered what coyotes, bobcats, and other wild carnivores eat while in captivity, you’re in the right place. Though there are some differing opinions on the specifics such as portions and ratios, most smaller carnivores share similar diets while held in captivity.

What is a carnivore?

Simply put, a carnivore is an animal that’s diet consists primarily of meat. This meat can come from live animals or dead ones. To break it down even further, Animals that have both carnivorous and herbivorous feeding behavior are known as scavengers. The difference between a scavenger and a carnivore is that a carnivore will eat live or dead animals and scavengers will only eat dead animals.

As if it’s not already complicated enough, there are different types of carnivores including:

Insectivores – Carnivores that feast primarily on insects, but still will eat meat. Learn more about insectivores here.

Piscivores – Carnivores whose diet consists primarily of fish.

Coyote Diets

Now that you have a fundamental understanding of the different feeding behaviors of animals (specifically different types of carnivores), you’re probably wondering what description a coyote falls under.

A coyote’s diet can vary greatly depending on the season. Generally speaking, 90% of the food that a coyote eats consists of animal matter – dead or alive. Coyotes are not obligate carnivores because their physiology does permit them to eat other foods besides animals such as vegetables, bugs, and fruits. If meat is available, they prefer it. In the fall, a coyote may eat more fruits since they are more readily available. In the winter and early spring, a coyote will eat a large amount of grass.

The different types of animals that a coyote may eat include rabbits, mice, opossums, lizards, snake, fish, rabbits, rodents, birds, and crustaceans. During the spring, summer and fall, rodents are a more important part of a coyote’s diet. Larger animals that a coyote may eat include bison, deer, and sheep. While coyotes are held in captivity, they may be fed frozen rats and other types of frozen rodents.

In short, a coyote is a scavenger that prefers fresh meat when possible but will eat insects, fruits, vegetables, and dead animals when the opportunity presents itself.

Bobcat Diets

Bobcats, unlike coyotes, are strictly carnivores as their diets consists only of meat. They mostly prey on small mammals, birds, and reptiles. Like other mammals belonging to the felinae family, bobcats are obligate carnivores and can only eat meat. Generally speaking, bobcats prefer to eat mammals that weigh between 1 to 13 pounds such as feeder rabbits or feeder guinea pigs. However, they have also been known to eat other animals such as deer or livestock up to eight times their own weight. Bobcats usually prefer to prey on fawns, but will prey on larger deer especially when there is an abundance of them in their habitat or when other smaller prey is scarce. Livestock and poultry consumption generally only happens when a bobcat is near a farm or ranch.

What do bobcats eat while in captivity?

Bobcats that are held in captivity in animal rehabilitation wildlife centers or zoos can be fed freshfrozen rats or frozen mice, cat chow, and various kinds of fish. Many zoos and rehab centers prefer to feed bobcats frozen mammals so that there is disconnect between the humans feeding them and the food that they are providing to them. It’s common practice for zookeepers and wildlife rehab experts to hide food in a bobcat’s cage rather than toss it to them in plain sight.

Other Carnivores Diets While in Captivity

Other captive carnivore’s diets as Canadian Lynx and Red Foxes are similar to coyotes and bobcats. Red Foxes can be fed small rodents such aspinkie mice and feeder rabbits. They should also be fed insects such as crickets, silkworms, and beetles.

A Canadian Lynx not only shares a similar appearance and size as a bobcat, they have similar diets and feeding behaviors as well. While in captivity, the obligate carnivorous Canadian Lynx can be fed birds and rodents. In the wild, Canadian Lynx’s will eat mostly Snowshoe Hares.

No matter what type of carnivore that you are caring for, it’s important that you adhere to their specified diets and make sure to feed them only fresh, premium quality food such as that provided by Additionally, most carnivores should be fed the entire animal, and not just a portion of it such as a breast or thigh. The organs and skin of prey are vital to the health of the carnivore and provide it with many health benefits. For all of your premium, fresh feeder animal needs, shop online with us today.




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